UK smart city sector could be worth $40bn by 2020

9 October 2013
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
Smart cities could save huge amounts of time, money and energy by integrating physical and digital infrastructure

Smart cities could save huge amounts of time, money and energy by integrating physical and digital infrastructure [Credit: Kume Sekki Co]

The smart city industry will be worth more than $400bn (£250bn) a year by 2020 and the UK could capture $40bn of this market, according to a new report.

Research carried out by engineering firm Arup for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to mark the launch of their new Smart Cities Forum has shown that the UK stands to take a 10 per cent cut of a $408bn global market in smart city technology.

But Volker Buscher, Arup director and author of the report, said a lack of a joined-up vision could hamper the UK's efforts to take a lead in the sector and the government must work with cities' businesses and academia to come up with a clear road map.

“I think currently we are missing a little bit of a vision that the principle stakeholders in this industry agree on,” he said. “I know it’s difficult when you have short-term problems, but if you never start to develop a vision you keep walking around in the dark and then you keeping heading in different directions.”

The concept of smart cities involves the integration of physical and digital infrastructure, so that data can be used to save money, minimise waste, measure usage of utilities or manage transport routes.

Smart systems will also allow the public access to real-time information that enables them to make more informed choices, such as planning a journey by checking for available room on trains and buses or even identifying car parking spaces before leaving the house.

“The next generation are not actually thinking about this as a change, they think about it as the reality in which they live,” said Buscher.

“The technology, in particular digital technology, we have now has become a force driving change in cities in its own right. Now we have technological capability available to us at costs we just didn’t have five years ago at the city scale or large scale.”

While the report found that the UK is in a good position to capitalise on this growing market, the report found that a lack of a broader vision has made it hard for companies to convince local authorities and utilities of the business case for untested technologies.

According to Buscher, in order to gain export credibility and attract inward investment, the UK needs to take risks and undertake large-scale demonstrations of smart technologies in its own cities.

“To be global leaders in this we will have to make some radical changes in the next year or two,” he said. “We need to get away from these trial projects which are a means to their own end; testing new technology in a city then when the test is completed your happy because the test worked. We need to have trials that can scale to city-wide roll outs.”

Science Minister David Willets welcomed the research and pledged that the Smart City Forum, which he will chair alongside Cities Minister Greg Clark, will help tackle the issues raised in the report.

“Our aim as the government is that Britain should be at the forefront of developments on smart cities and we should become a global hub for smart city solutions,” he said.

“I think we have got some fundamental sources of competitive advantage. We are already doing some of the right things and the Smart City forum is a way of ensuring we do more.”

The forum will be made up of representatives from cities, business, and academia and has been set up in response to the government’s Information Economy Strategy released in June.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1604

"Should the UK's engineers be in or out of Europe? The IET sets out its official position on the EU referendum this week - will you agree?"

->

E&T jobs

  • Solutions Engineer

    Bristol Water
    • United Kingdom
    • £41,000 - 49,000

    We serve a population of over one million people and all the associated businesses in an area of 1,000 square miles centered on Bristol.

    • Recruiter: Bristol Water

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Mechanical Engineer

    Bristol Water
    • United Kingdom
    • £41,000 - 49,000

    We serve a population of over one million people and all the associated businesses in an area of 1,000 square miles centered on Bristol.

    • Recruiter: Bristol Water

    Apply for this job

  • Software Renewals Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Preston, Lancashire, England
    • Negotiable

    Software Renewals Manager Would you like to work in a resourceful and developing role within IT Services? We currently have a vacancy for a Software Renewals Manager at our site in Preston Channel Way. As a Software Renewals Manager, you will be responsi

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Technical Manager

    Aggregate Industries
    • Hulland Ward, Ashbourne
    • Attractive salary plus comprehensive benefits

    A key Technical Manager role driving product improvement and compliance with Aggregate Industries, market leader in Construction Solutions.

    • Recruiter: Aggregate Industries

    Apply for this job

  • Field Application Engineer

    Intel
    • Madrid

    Responsible for giving product presentations to the customer describing how Intel products provide the optimum solution to their application.

    • Recruiter: Intel

    Apply for this job

  • Engineers and Scientists

    European Patent Office
    • Munich and The Hague
    • See job description

    We are looking for Engineers and scientists in various technical fields for our locations in Munich and The Hague.

    • Recruiter: European Patent Office

    Apply for this job

  • Director of Product Management

    EMS Recruitment Group
    • West Yorkshire
    • Circa £70,000 PA + car allowance, excellent benefits including lucrative bonus scheme

    Our client is the undoubted world leader in their field. A highly innovative and progressive specialist electro-mechanical product manufacturer....

    • Recruiter: EMS Recruitment Group

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer

    Premium job

    Scottish Prison Service
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh
    • £40,654 to £48,579 plus annual supplement of £10,000

    Build Your Engineering Career. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is an Agency of the Scottish Government, working in partnership.....

    • Recruiter: Scottish Prison Service

    Apply for this job

  • Sales Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Precision Microdrives
    • London (Greater)
    • £25,000 - £30,000 starting salary, inclusive of on-target commissions.

    Precision Microdrives (PMD) is a fast growing technology company that designs, produces and trades miniature electro-mechanical mechanisms

    • Recruiter: Precision Microdrives

    Apply for this job

  • Installation and Commissioning Engineer

    Premium job

    Crest Solutions
    • Corby
    • Competitive

    You will be involved in installation, commissioning & servicing of printing and machine vision related solutions.

    • Recruiter: Crest Solutions

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T